If you are in an area at risk of flooding
How can I prepare for a flood?
Preparation for a risk of tidal flooding:
- If you live or work near the coast or a harbour area and are concerned that tidal flooding may affect your property, you can obtain advice about likely water levels and best methods of defence from the Department of Infrastructure.
- Sandbags, for use by the public to protect their property, will be made available by the DoI. Pallets of sandbags will be located in Douglas on the Promenade (near the Castlemona Hotel, Hilton Hotel, Empress Hotel and in the Strathallen area) and on North Quay (near the British Hotel, the Clarendon Hotel and near Newson’s shop), and in Castletown (Hope Street, Victoria Road and on the Promenade near James Road).
- If you are likely to require additional sandbags, they can be obtained in advance through the DoI emergency number or from DoI depots. However, sandbags have a limited life when exposed to general weather conditions.
Preparation for a risk of rainfall or river flooding:
- If you live or work in an area where you are concerned that flooding may affect your property, you can obtain advice about likely water levels and best methods of defence from the Department of Infrastructure.
- Ensure that drains around your property are properly maintained. Gullies should be kept free of fallen leaves in autumn as they can cause temporary blockages.
- Sandbags, for use by the public to protect their property, can be obtained in advance through the DoI emergency number of from DoI depots (although sandbags have a limited life when exposed to general weather conditions).
Additional preparation for a risk of flooding:
- Make sure that you have adequate insurance to cover possible flood damage to your property and its contents. Keep details of your policy and contact numbers to hand.
- Keep a list of useful telephone numbers to hand e.g. numbers shown on the Help and Advice page.
- Make sure that you know where to turn off your electrity and/or gas supply.
- Store valuable and sentimental items and important documents upstairs or in a high place.
- Ensure your radio batteries, mobile phone and any torches you may need are fully charged.
- Make sure your pets or other livestock are safely away from areas which might be flooded.
- Ensure any chemical containers (e.g. oil, paint, detergents, weedkiller, acid, etc.) in your stores, shed or garage are securely sited above possible flood levels.
- Have a few sandbags and planks of wood prepared to block doorways and airbricks.
If flooding is imminent:
- Turn off electricity, water and gas supplies.
- Move vehicles to higher ground where water cannot reach the bodywork or mechanical parts.
- Ensure you have a safe escape route from flood water. Even a few inches of water, especially if flowing or in waves, can sweep you off your feet. A foot or more of water can move cars around.
- Alert your neighbours, especially the elderly.
- Do as much preparation as possible in daylight. Doing anything in the dark is more difficult, especially if the electricity fails.
- Remember that tidal flooding will begin to recede after high water and that rainfall flooding will usually begin to recede after the rain eases off or stops falling. If at all possible, it is safer to stay indoors until the danger has passed.
When flooding occurs:
- If you are, or see someone else, in danger don’t hesitate to dial ‘999’.
- Try to avoid contact with floodwater, it often contains sewage and perhaps other contaminants or chemicals.
- Don’t walk through floodwater and, if at all possible, avoid driving through it.
- Floodwater can dislodge covers from drains and manholes; these and other hazards may not be visible.
- Driving through floodwater will generate wakes and exacerbate other peoples’ problems.
- Fast moving water can carry submerged objects which may impact with considerable force.
- Keep away from river banks and bridges as river levels can rise quickly.
- Don’t walk on walls or sea defences, you could easily be swept off by an ‘unexpected’ wave and structures may collapse in extreme situations.
- Beware of stones, pebbles and other debris thrown up by waves.
- Be aware that strong winds and gusts can blow you into areas of danger.
Clearing up after flooding:
- If necessary, contact the DoI or Fire Service for assistance. Companies which may be able to help with cleaning up can be found in ‘Yellow Pages’.
- Open doors and windows to ventilate your property, but take care to ensure any valuables are secure.
- Contact your electrician and plumber to check your electricity, water and gas services are safe to turn on again. Wash water taps and run them for several minutes before use.
- Throw away any foodstuffs which may have been in contact with flood water.
- Call your insurance company as soon as possible and keep a record of flood damage (perhaps with photographs or video).
- Flood water can often contain sewage (although usually in dilute form).
- Wash hands after exposure to flood water and decontaminate footwear by washing and treating with a mild disinfectant.
- Keep children and pets away from any contaminated areas.
- Remove as much flood water as possible (by pumping or sweeping, as appropriate), apply a mild disinfectant and allow to dry.
- However, disinfectant should not normally be applied to gardens (as it can kill plants). Also, gardens should not be hosed down, dug over or raked (as this will spread contamination further into the ground and prolong the life of bacteria - UV radiation in sunlight is very effective in killing bacteria).
Using sandbags to protect your property:
- Select the best site for building a protective wall. Make use of existing walls and land features to keep your temporary structure as short as possible. Advice can be obtained from the DoI or emergency services.
- Bags and sand can be obtained from your builders’ merchant.
- Bags filled only around half full (and not tied) can be laid together like bricks to make a defence.
- Alternate the direction of bags in each layer, lapping unfilled portion under next bag.
- For larger structures, build defence 3 times as wide as it will be high and seal by wrapping in heavy-duty plastic sheet (e.g. DPM from a builders’ merchant).
- Remove temporary structures after the flooding event to restore natural drainage (and before the bags deteriorate).
- Consider whether a permanent alleviation scheme or structure could prevent you being affected by future flooding events.